Yesterday I saw a tweet from a Calgarian stating that the Green Line made sense 10 years ago, but wondered if it makes sense now. Another came to the Green Line’s defense, rightly declaring the project of course makes sense and we have had a rigorous process to make the decisions that have been made to date. The rigorous process will continue with the decisions that still need to be made. Importantly, as I have stated many times, the project is fully funded. He finished off suggesting that “[Councillor Keating] will literally fight anyone who tries to derail the project. Pun intended.” I always appreciate a good pun, but maybe “literally fight” is a little too strong! Unless he meant with words and blog posts. Then I will absolutely fight that way.
The Green Line makes more sense today than it did 10 years ago. Looking just at the south portion of the line, there is currently a population of 134,000 residents. There are also 111,000 jobs along the line. On the north end, there are 171,000 people in the area the Green Line will serve and 38,000 jobs. Looking ahead to 2026 when the Green Line will be running, the population served by the southern portion will have grown to 200,000 residents and 129,000 jobs. The northern portion will serve 195,000 residents and 54,000 jobs. The projections for twenty years after opening day predict the Green Line will serve almost half a million residents and well over a quarter million jobs. If that doesn’t show the need for this line and that it makes sense, I’m not sure what will.
I often find the people questioning the need for the Green Line fall into two categories, and some of them may fall into both. The first is, they are not residents that will be directly served by the Green Line. Maybe they live along one of the existing LRT routes and figure they have theirs, so why bother with this massive infrastructure project? The other group may not utilize public transit. They may have the capability to drive to and from work. I’m not suggesting that there is anything wrong with that. But the Green Line will benefit the city as a whole. As I’ve pointed out several times before, the addition of the Green Line will remove cars from the road. Residents living along its service area will have easier access to transit and many will opt to save some money by purchasing a transit pass rather than paying for gas and parking. Cars off of the road will mean less congestion for those that need to or choose to drive to and from work. Transit users from other parts of the city will have easier access to the many fantastic amenities that can be found along the Green Line’s route.
On opening day, the Green Line is projected to see 60,000 to 65,000 daily trips, and that number will only go up. It will connect to more than 60 existing community services – and there may be more by 2026. It will also connect over 2,300 existing affordable housing units. On opening day, it will provide a link to 191,000 jobs. Even if you don’t live in the area served by the Green Line, it may open up more job opportunities for residents living across the city because you will have this easy transit access to the southeast or north central part of the city. The reduced car trips will also lead to a reduction of 30,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, truly putting the “Green” in Green Line.
There is absolutely a need for the Green Line and that need is only going to increase as Calgary’s economy recovers and the city continues to grow. I know my residents right now need to use the BRT, which while direct, is less efficient than an LRT. I hear almost daily from residents about crowded buses and lengthy commute times. The Green Line will help solve some of these issues. Even though Stage 1 isn’t planned to go as far south (or north) as I would like, it will be significantly easier to bring people from the south to the southern end of the LRT line by bus than to bring them all the way into downtown by bus. The Green Line makes more sense today than it did 10 years ago, and will make even more sense in 2026 when that first trip launches.
As always, please feel free to drop me a line here.